Amendment to the Motion

Part of Business of the House - Motion on Standing Orders – in the House of Lords at 3:30 pm on 4th April 2019.

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Photo of Lord Cormack Lord Cormack Conservative 3:30 pm, 4th April 2019

No, I will not give way—I will in a minute. My noble friend has the next amendment and doubtless he too will speak at some length: I hope it will not be the half-hour or 20 minutes we have just had, because that is far too long. It is really important that we get on to the Bill. We have four more amendments, I think, after this one; then we have a Statement; and then we have my noble friend Lord Forsyth’s important debate—although it is not as urgent as the business that will then be before your Lordships’ House. I wish we could approach this in a consensual, adult manner and do two things. First, I hope my noble friend Lord Forsyth will be willing to have his reports debated next week. There will be plenty of time. The first week of our Recess has been cancelled—I make no complaints about it. Therefore, he has plenty of time and it would be a very good idea.

Secondly, I think that we should have Second Reading today—here, I agree with my noble friend Lady Noakes—and move on, not on Monday but tomorrow. The House has met on Fridays before. The other place is not meeting tomorrow, so there would be no delay whatever in the parliamentary process if we took Report tomorrow. I really think we have to be sensible and I ask noble friends in all parts of the House who were there to remember that April day almost exactly 37 years ago when the House met on a Saturday. That was the most dire of emergencies and both Houses met on the Saturday after the Falklands invasion. So there is nothing sacrosanct about any day other than Sunday as far as your Lordships’ House is concerned. In the war I believe there was one Sitting on a Sunday, but that is beside the point. I urge both Front Benches to talk seriously about this. It does nobody’s cause any service, whether they are a supporter or an opponent of the Bill, to be going bleary-eyed through the Lobbies at 2 am, 3 am, 4 am, 5 am or 6 am. It does no service to anyone.

I have two hopes, and I shall not say any more during the debate today. That may please my noble friends but at least I do not blether on as long as some of them do. I hope that we can heal the bitterness to which my noble friend Lord Empey referred a few hours ago. I hope also that we can make genuine progress on this Bill. I beg my noble friends who have amendments to come to withdraw them, to hold their fire and to make their speeches in the main debate, which I hope we will get on to very soon, and I hope that we can finish the Bill tomorrow. That would make abundant sense, both here and outside.